Minnesota Master Naturalist

Course Registration

ADV - ROAD TRIP! Southeast Minnesota Master Naturalist Discover MN

Winona State University - Tau Center website

511 Hilbert Street, Winona MN
Winona , MN 55987

This September join fellow naturalist​s ​for an epic ​adventure exploring the wonders of southeast Minnesota. Travel by coach bus from St. Paul to Winona, MN and explore first-hand geological vistas of the area, behind-the-scenes tours, fall colors and quaint river towns during this fall’s Master Naturalist Road Trip. Explore first-hand caves, sinkholes, and karst topography, the largest flyway in the world, the history of steamboats and the mussel industry, all hidden away in the steep hills and valleys of this unique region. Our adventure will take us to stops along the river, the locks and dams, floodplain forests, canoeing, hiking, goat prairies, State Parks and Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) as we learn about the region’s unique history, geology, phenology, culture, and bird habitats of the “Big Woods & Big Rivers” ecosystem. Master Naturalist instructors and local experts will be your road trip guides, providing insider tips and insights on how this region of the state, left unglaciated, gets the moniker, the “Driftless Area.”

This trip includes a variety of (optional) physical activities including: hiking over uneven ground with an option for steep trails, canoeing, riding in a coach bus up to 3 hours at a time, descending & climbing up to 150 stairs, standing, listening to lectures, and rain-or-shine outdoor activities. A suggested packing list will be sent to registrants. All transportation and meals included, please specify dietary limitations at registration.

Information Flyer


Wednesday, September 18: Meet at the St. Paul Depot and journey the Great River Road with interpretation and stops along the way to learn about the geologic formation and shipping history of the river. After a tour of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha we explore the rare species and sand prairies of Kellogg-Weaver Dunes Scientific & Natural Area. We head inland to Whitewater State Park and an exploration of watershed ecology and local history. Dinner hosted by the local chapter of Master Naturalists and an interpretive park program round out our day, which ends at our lodging, the Tau Center in Winona.

Thursday, September 19: We’re up bright and early for a canoe outing on the Mississippi River where we’ll learn about island building, wildlife habitat, and fish research. After a box lunch on the river, we’ll take a quick tour of the Wenonah Canoe Factory, then head across the border to Wisconsin’s Perrot State Park to explore goat prairies, effigy mounds, and view Lock & Dam # 4. A casual evening program with Folk Singer Eddie Allan recounts river history at the Trempealeau Hotel.

Friday, September 20: We depart the Tau Center and head underground to Mystery Cave State Park for a lantern-lit tour of the corridor maze formed by dissolving limestone. Prepare for low ceilings, dripping water, and amazing rock formations! After a picnic lunch at the park, view the topside of the sinkholes with a short walk through Cherry Grove Blind Valley Scientific Area. Then our coach bus will head straight back to St Paul.

Trip will focus on 3 major topics: Mississippi Flyway, cormorants, pelican flocks, eagles Mississippi River, natural and cultural history, steamboats, river towns, canoeing, lock and dams, water quality, fish Driftless Area: Karst topography, Geology (limestone/dolomite), Coulee region, springs, sinkholes, caves, springs, endangered species, bats, goat prairies

Parking at Depot: There is a place for parking next to the Depot where there are paid lots that are watched 24-7 throughout our time away (overnight parking). Estimated price for Lot C is $13 a day X 3 =$39.00 or you could choose to be dropped off if you can.

Instructors: Stephan Carlson and Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension Educators in the Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education

The course cost is $475 and includes course manuals and supplies.

Course Dates:

Meeting from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on:

Instructor Information

Andrea Lorek Strauss

Andrea Lorek Strauss grew up playing outdoors at every opportunity. Today, she is an environmental educator with the University of Minnesota Extension with an undergraduate degree in Education and Communication Arts, and a MSEd in Curriculum and Instruction/Outdoor Education. Past work gigs include 9 years with the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN, 2.5 years with the Prairie Ecology Bus Center in southwest Minnesota, and various naturalist roles in the Boston area, northern Minnesota, and New York state.

Stephan Carlson

Dr. Stephan Carlson. Dr. Carlson has worked for the U of M Extension and the College of Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences for the last 25 years doing outreach and teaching classes in environmental education (EE) and interpretation. He has worked in the fields of EE, outdoor recreation, informal science education and environmental interpretation for the past 35 years. In addition to his work teaching interpretation, he also teaches Science and Math summer school on the White Earth Indian Reservation. His research is on understanding the components that informal science experiences have on young people and how to develop quality programs that incorporate these components in environmental education.

Sponsor Information

University of MN Extension

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